IN computer speak it’s known as GIGO – the acronym for “garbage in, garbage out.” Which is to say that if you input dodgy data, a dodgy conclusion is guaranteed.

In terms of understanding the Scottish body politic, I fear Keir Starmer’s weighty essay on tomorrow’s Britain suffers from GIGO overload.

It’s not difficult to see why. If you come to Scotland and listen only to folks similar to your now solitary MP – viscerally opposed to independence – or your new Scottish party leader – inexplicably opposed even to a referendum on the same – then it would be easy to assume theirs is the one true voice of left-of-centre Scotland.

He might have found it rather more constructive to talk to the tens of thousands of his erstwhile flock who gave up on the Labour tribe, partly because of no discernible uplift in their circumstances after decades of Labour hegemony, but also because they held the belief – shared by a majority of the citizenry – that an independent Scotland could do better.

Yet there is a more insulting subtext to the brief passage in the essay which talks about nationalism and identity.

A small flavour: “Nationalists like to portray themselves as patriots. But patriotism and nationalism are not the same. In fact, they are opposites. Nationalism represents an attempt to divide people from one another; patriotism is an attempt to unite people of different backgrounds”.

Or how about: “Nationalism is just one arm of the rise of identity-based politics in the Western world that has done immense damage to the progressive cause. By dividing people into smaller and smaller groups and diminishing the experiences of others, we atomise our society ever more and keep potential allies and friends at arm’s length.”

And then: “Both the SNP and the Conservatives use culture to distract and deflect, creating division between people of these islands. The business of effective governance and improving people’s lives comes second to ideology. Both use nationalism freely to whip up fear of the other.”

READ MORE: Keir Starmer essay: Labour leader mentions Scotland THREE times in 12,000 word effort

As the kids say – where to start with all this?

Sir Keir is not a stupid man, nor a stranger to research. A modest amount of the latter might have given him an entry-level grounding in the difference between a civic nationalism determinedly outward-facing in its ambitions and the kind of populist tub-thumping of a Trump or an Orban.

As for nationalism being about “the casting out of the other”, has he really not listened to the endlessly repeated mantra of the Scottish Government celebrating the arrival of new Scots, demanding proper recognition of settled Europeans, calling for a migration policy which is the polar opposite of the Patel insularity?

We are not the nation in “these isles” which suffers from rampant xenophobia or “whips up” fear of the other. We are not the nation who voted to detach ourselves from Europe, “keeping potential allies and friends at arm’s length”. Yet Starmer’s conclusion from the rupture of Brexit is that “nationalism is an attempt to divide people from one another.”

He says: “When we celebrate our country, it is a love of place and people, not jingoism,” apparently deaf to the irony of implying the flag-obsessed jingoism of the Westminster government is somehow emblematic of inclusion. And while I’m at it, Sir Keir, Britain is not a country – a case of mistaken identity which you share with Gordon Brown.

If, to borrow one of the PM’s favourite three-word slogans, you want to build back better for Labour in Scotland, then you might pause to reflect why that ambition is currently shared by a paltry 17% of the electorate.

It really isn’t rocket science; if you persist in denying your own voter base their stated wish for self-determination, or, at worst, an opportunity for a post-Brexit poll on independence, then you are in denial about scorning the basic democracy you affect to cherish.

I’m truly sorry the Labour Party and its Scottish rump have reached this nadir, because, being an internationalist supporter of independence, I fear for the poor and downtrodden in your country as well as mine.

It gives me no pleasure to conclude that you may never reach the summit of the electoral mountain you have to climb.

I would cheerfully celebrate a Labour victory over a malign Conservative government provided it contained the recognition that Scotland could become an ally and a friend as the small European state on England’s doorstep. A good neighbour, not a patronised vassal.

As it is, the only time any great attention is paid to Scotland is when a) a party needs more seats, b) a government frets about where to stash its nuclear arsenal or c) belatedly recognises that Scotland’s is not the hand holding the begging bowl.

You will remember the dash northwards by a train-load of English MPs when they panicked at a poll suggesting Yes would win. (If I ever find the genius who blasted out the Star Wars Empire theme from his speakers while telling the bemused passers-by that “our imperial masters have arrived”, I will kiss him. Whether he wants it or not!)

The National:

You will remember the infamous Vow promising Scotland constitutional heaven on earth. Or perhaps you won’t since it proved not to be worth the tabloid page on which it was inscribed.

Thing is, Sir Keir, in the interim, we have been given instead a UK Government which is bound and determined to reduce even the modest powers of the devolved administrations. If you doubt me, have a word with the Labour head of the Senedd in Wales.

For all the reasons noted, we have little faith in the ability of today’s Labour Party to get into power any time soon. Even if you weren’t a British nationalist – sorry, patriot – you will be pushed to find many Scots making bunting for your coronation.

MEANWHILE, I have been sampling the delights of the current travel policy. Pre-changes, travelling to France via the Netherlands was a journey into amber space. An expensive one.

READ MORE: Keir Starmer essay: SNP analysis 'insulting to Scots', says academic

I reckon the cost of obtaining the necessary Covid QR code in France, a PCR test in order to come home again and the two DIY PCR tests I now have to complete at home cost well north of £200. Interestingly, the greatest oncost were the latter tests which are compulsory and which, the guidance helpfully warns, cannot be done via the free NHS variety. At £136 for two test kits, someone is making a tidy sum.

On the positive side, France has really cracked the vaccine passport business. Unless you have the QR code on your phone confirming your vaccination status, you ain’t going anywhere. Certainly not anywhere selling food or alcohol. Quite a powerful inducement to get properly vaccinated!

When you go over any commercial doorstep your code is photographed by the staff, and, as an added twist, many establishments have a QR code on your table allowing you to see the menu and order. This seems to me way more comforting than intrusive.

Mask-wearing is ubiquitous, and absolutely compulsory indoors, especially in airports. The French, once noted for national bolshieness, appear to have taken all this in their Gallic stride. As they have the hand sanitation available absolutely everywhere.

It all tends to make a nonsense of the Westminster theory that giving guidance rather than explicit instructions will somehow endow the populace with an attack of common sense.

I return to news that in common with 33 other named areas, the US will now admit vaccinated UK citizens. I have very vivid memories of queuing for three hours at New York immigration pre-Covid despite having downloaded a “fast-track” exit document.

I suspect the experience will be even less joyous now.